Cabinet Approves 10% Reservation for Economically Backward Upper Castes

While opposition parties criticised the move as a 'gimmick', allies have welcomed it.

New Delhi: The Union cabinet has approved 10% reservation in jobs and educational institutions for the economically backward section in the general category, sources told PTI on Monday.

This reservation will be over and above the existing 50% reservation, they said, adding that the government is likely to bring a constitutional amendment bill in parliament on Tuesday.

“The reservation will be given to those economically backward poor people who are not availing the benefit of reservation as of now,” a source said.

According to the Indian Express, this reservation is for people who earn less than Rs 8 lakh per year. In order to bring about a law for this, Articles 15 and 16 of the constitution will have to be amended.

Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment Ramdas Athawale has called the decision a ‘good start’. “The issue of reservation caused a lot of conflict between Dalits and Savarnas. My demand has always been for 25% reservation for the upper caste poor; 10% is a good start,” Indian Express quoted him as saying.

Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, who quit the BJP in April last year, however, has said the move is another ‘jumla‘.

Congress leader Harish Rawat expressed a similar position.

The party’s spokesperson, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, called it a “election gimmick”.

Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal challenged the Narendra Modi government to pass the amendments before 2019 elections.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejaswi Yadav criticised the decision, saying reservations are not meant to improve financial condition, but to ensure representation of socially backward people. Speaking to News18, he said, “If financial condition was to be improved, Narendra Modi should have given Rs 15 lakh and jobs.”

BJP MPs, allies welcome move

BJP MP Udit Raj welcomed the move, saying the parliament is empowered to raising the ceiling of reservation. “I welcome wholeheartedly reservation given to economically… Now the ceiling will be raised from 50 to 60 per cent,” he said, according to Hindustan Times.

The BJP’s allies Republican Party of India (Athawale) and Lok Janashakti Party also welcomed the move. RPI chief and Union minister for social justice and empowerment Ramdas Athawale called the move a “masterstroke”.

LJP’s Chirag Paswan welcomed the move, saying he was happy with the government’s decision.

(With PTI inputs)